Illusionistquest Chapter 8: Train of Thought


Chapter 38

Not even a second after your shoes touch the last step does Hannah come out and wrap you in a big, wolfy hug. You wheeze as she presses you close into her, and you have to slap her arm a few times for her to let you go enough to breath.

She sniffles and says, “You’re leaving, huh?”

“Yeah,” you say, taking in sweet, sweet air. “Although, it’s kind of hard if you’re squeezing me like this.”

She blinks and lets you go, chuckling. “Ah, sorry about that, I’m just… still caught up in everything you told me last evening. It’s… a lot to take in.” She puts a hand on your shoulder and nods to you. “Are you alright?”

“No, but…” You look over at your companions and then nod your head. “I think I’ll make it.”

“Well, if you need anything, you come and let me know, alright? I trust you’ll find how to bring him back to us soon, alright?”

“Yeah… yeah!” you say, forcing some confidence into your voice. “Oh, I’m going to guess Richard didn’t pay up yet.” You reach into your pouch and Hannah shakes her head, holding out a hand.

“Oh no, you keep that money. He’ll pay it back later.” You hear a grumbling noise of complaint from the kitchen and Hanna frowns, shouting back, “Oh, stick it you curmudgeon!” She rolls her eyes and looks back at you. “Ah, he’s like that.”

The door behind you opens and little Jeanie hops in, her wolfy-tail wagging. “Hey Mom! The stables are cleaned and- oh hey! It’s you!” She walks up to the three of you and smiles lecherously. “Oh, ho, ho, look who’s doing well for himself.”

Hannah flicks her daughter’s ear, causing the girl to pout. The older Wolf Girl rolls her eyes. “Sorry about that.”

“Hey, speaking of stables,” you say, rubbing your chin, realizing you utterly forgot something very important. “How has Craig been?”

Jeanie looks up at you, smiling. “Oh, he’s well! Likes to sit around and eat all day, seems pretty happy to me! Why, do you want to take him out of the stables?”

“No, sadly we have to leave by leyway.” A twinge of pain runs through you as you say that, realizing you have to leave Richard’s old horse behind too. You look to Hannah and nod your head. “Hey, do you think we could leave Craig with you? You can use him for whatever you need, I just… we can’t take him with us.”

Hannah nods her head and smiles before patting Jeanie on the head. “Sure, Jeanie loves working with Craig, right?”

“Yeah, sure!” Jeanie says before cocking her head. “Where are you going? And where is Mr. Dennerman?”

Everyone looks a little pained at that and Jeanie frowns, confused, before her mother takes her to the side. “He’s gone on ahead of them to Sanctifrond, sweetie. They’ll be back later!”

“Oh, okay,” she says. “Alright then, come back soon!” She smiles and you find your heart bleeding in your chest at her poor, sweet innocence. You lick your lips and nod your head, forcing a smile on your face.

“Yeah… yeah we will.” She smiles at that and you nod to Hannah, who pats your back. You adjust the [Rucksack] before nodding to the others, who ready their own items and you leave The Dancing Wolf for the last time.

For now, anyway.

“Fellows eh?” a Guardsman says at the front desk of the station. The scratches his cheek, looking utterly bored. “Yeah, he’s here, though he ain’t really doing much. Higher ups not too happy with him.”

You sigh, feeling bad for the Sergeant. The two (three) of you made your way here while Ginelle headed to the Market District to get Ophelia, much to her annoyance. You made a straight beeline to the Main District (which is funny because of the Bee Girls), stopping only to speak with Ulala before reaching the station. She didn’t have much to say, merely mentioning that Richard was fine and that she was doing well. You kind of got the feeling that she wanted you to leave, whether for her benefit, or yours, you do not know.

Either way, you stand inside the station as the guardsman eyes you and your companions before sighing. “Can I help you with anything else?”

“Uh, yeah, can you please get him for us?” Saya says, crossing her arms. The man rolls his eyes.

“Oh, very well then. Give me a moment…” He stands slowly and speaks to a younger man who salutes crisply and runs to the back.

Saya sighs and rubs her face. “I can’t tell if they’ve always been incompetent, or if this is fallout from Fiora.”

“I don’t know,” you say, shrugging. “If she won’t be here much longer, then hopefully things will go back to normal since the mayor won’t have him inside her head.”

“I suppose… though I might need to have Mother pressure the King to bring someone down to officially look into the corruption. I can imagine he’d want to replace him anyway, though he used to be such a good man.”

“Well, maybe he can be again, but if we have to leave then…”

Saya nods her head before hitting her dress and grumbling about Fairies. “Right, it’s not our concern for now. The city will be standing when we return, alright?”

“What’s this about city standing?” A gruff voice says, and you look up to see Sergeant Fellows, in full gear again, walking up to you, shooing away the poor kid working there. He ruffles his mustache before nodding to you. “Ah, the young Tobias and Saya! I trust everything went well?”

“Not… quite,” you say, and the man frowns. You raise a hand, looking over to the bored guardsman, who is eyeing your group with curiosity. “How about we talk over this over some lunch, huh?”

Fellows looks over his shoulder and nods his head. “Alright, I shall follow you then!” He sighs. “Not like they have me doing much here at the moment anyway.”

The three (four) of you leave, and thankfully Fellows seems to understand the situation somehow, deciding not to ask any questions until you reach the Market District, which is busy, busy, busy at this hour. Thankfully, you picked a restaurant beforehand and, as you arrive, you see a grumpy looking Ophelia crossing her arms while saying something to Ginelle, though it’s too noisy to hear. As you approach though, you see her long ears perk up and she looks over to you, a small smile appearing on her face before vanishing. She waves at you and you wave back before sitting down at the table next to Ginelle.

Saya, of course, sits directly next to you and Fellows sits next to Ophelia, nodding to her and bowing slightly. Ophelia rolls her eyes before looking back at you, raising an eyebrow. “So uh… this is unexpected. What’s going on and uh…” She looks about, frowning. “Where’s the guy you were with before?”

“Well, that’s kind of what this is about,” you say, putting your hands together and taking a deep breath. “Fiora managed to get away from us, wounded, but alive, and Richard was… wounded.”

Fellows expression turns dark while Ophelia puts a hand to her mouth. “No! Will be he alright?”

“Maybe,” you say, shaking your head. “We have to do something first, but that’s my problem.” Saya and Ginelle both elbow you in the ribs and you wheeze, rubbing at your side. “Fiiiine, it’s our problem.”

Fellows sighs. “Bother, she sounds like quite the terror.” He twirls his moustache, frowning. “What do you plan to do now?”

“Well, we’re heading to Sanctifrond to chase some leads as well as do some… dirty work.” You pause, looking to Fellows before continuing, “It’s legal and sanctioned by the Crown, of course, but it’s not pleasant. This is all to find Fiora and put a stop to her.” You take a deep breath before looking at both of them in the eyes.

“I set up this meeting to say thank you for everything you’ve done for us since we’ve been here. You didn’t need to do any of it, and I’m sorry for the trouble we’ve brought you.”

Ophelia’s ears droop and she gives you a wan smile. “Hey, it’s alright Tobias, without you we’d have been helping something terrible… well, more than we already did.”

“And I would have let a criminal go loose!” Fellows says, crossing his arms and nodding. “Though it might have cost me my job.”

“Oh no,” Saya says, reaching out a hand. “What happened with the Thief?”

Fellows grumbles, “We put her in a cell, but almost immediately I was taken for questioning. The Chief was furious at me for acting without orders. I’ve been put on administrative leave, but…” He shakes his head. “Well, of course, the cell was empty the next day. Truly empty, mind you.”

“Oh Hells, she won’t try to steal our mana cycler again, will she?” Ophelia asks, coming alert.

“I doubt it,” Saya says. “She needed to get it to Fiora beforehand, but now she probably wants nothing to do with her. I don’t think Fiora wants the cycler for the moment anyway, since she lost most of the plant samples she was working with.”

Ophelia mouths, “Plants?” before shaking her head, dropping it. “Alright then, that’s good.” She looks to you and you see a twinge of sadness in her eyes. “So you’re leaving then?”

“Yeah, we leave early evening.”

“Oh, I see.” She fidgets. “So it’ll be the Mk. II Mythril pattern-”

“Yes,” Ginelle says, waving a hand. You chuckle and shrug.

“No one else cares about it as much as we do.”

“Haha, well, they don’t have good tastes then?” She blinks and looks to Ginelle and Saya before blushing. “Uhm, right, sorry. Hey, is there anything else I can do for you before you go?”

“Well…” you say, rubbing your chin. “We will likely see those Blitzers at some point, having schematics would be nice…”

“No,” Ophelia says flatly. “I will not give away Manufactorum secrets.”

“Ah, alright-”

“But if you want…” She twirls her fingers together. “I couuuuuld go with you?”

You blink, Saya blinks, Ginelle blinks, and Fellows chuckles. “Ho, ho, ho, very bold there lass!”

Ophelia waves a dismissive hand toward him. “I just want to go and reclaim our products, especially since the buyer has vanished it seems. If it means I have to travel about, and maybe see a few things, make a few deals, well, then that’s a bonus.” She looks at you and smirks, “Uhm… how about it?”

You cock your head. “Did your mother put you up to this?”

“No!” Ophelia huffs, crossing her arms. “This is my decision!” She pales a moment later. “Though I will have to speak with her before I can finalize any of this…”

“It’ll be fine,” you say, chuckling before looking at the other two. “Is that fine?”

Ginelle frowns and crosses her arms. “If you want…”

Saya shrugs. “Would be useful I suppose.”

Fellows smiles. “Ah, to be young again.”

“What about you, Sergeant?” you ask, looking at him. “If you get fired, what about you?”

“Oh, son, I don’t think I have it in me to go on an adventure any longer.” He shakes his head, looking far older than he should. “I have a family to look after anyway, I can’t just leave them.”

“What if I paid you as some kind of mercenary?”

He looks a little angry at that. “Boy, this isn’t a time for joking. I take my job seriously, and I work for justice, not for the pay.” He sighs then, energy draining. “Though without the money, things may be a little tight.”

You frown, feeling bad for the man, when Saya perks up, snapping her fingers. “I have an idea! What if you joined the Order of the Heroic Brotherhood?” He gives her an odd look as she waves a hand toward him. “They’re always taking people with experience and drive.”

“Oh lass, I don’t think they’d take me, I don’t even know anyone.”

Saya chuckles, “I know the Lord Commander, he’ll take you in.”

Fellows gives her a critical look before chuckling as well. “Is that so? Well… perhaps it would be nice, but I’d have to leave Loveura then…”

“This place is getting a little out of hand for now,” Ginelle says, nodding her head. “Everyone keeps talking about how the mayor is corrupt, and how the guard isn’t doing their job right. What if they come after you for knowing too much?”

“I… well, that would be…” Fellows stammers, looking troubled.

“Maybe moving to Sanctifrond would be prudent?” you say, shrugging. The man looks at you with a pained expression before shaking his head.

“I don’t have the money for that…” He cuts off as you slap a gold coin on the table. He stares at it before looking back up to you.

“Take it. As a thank you for everything, take it and get your family on a leyway to Sanctifrond.”

“Boy…” he says, looking troubled. “I can’t just take this…”

“Yes. You can, and you will,” you say, pushing it toward him. “Come on Fellows, do what’s best here. Do what you can for justice. Do what you feel is right. If it means staying here, then do that. If not, then I think you’ll do really well in Sanctifrond.”

He stares at the coin for a moment longer before sighing and slipping it into a pouch. “Very well then. Thank you.”

Smiling, you make to speak more, but get cut off by a server, a young Cat Girl who bounces up. “Sorry about the wait everyone, what can I get you? We have a special honeyed menu today…”

You groan while Ginelle rubs her hands together, smiling with glee.

 

Chapter 39

The sound of magitek engines on the tracks makes your heart sing as you watch the attendants load up everyone’s luggage onto the leyway. Well, mostly Ophelia’s luggage, which she says are tools that she can’t just leave back at home. A girl has to have standards but this is a little much, right?

You adjust the new pair of [Magesight Goggles] you bought before coming here before putting them back in your [Rucksack]. Thankfully they didn’t cost an arm and a leg, but Hells, you really need to get a budget. The money won’t last forever! Speaking of which, you’re about to count the money again when Ophelia walks up, nodding her head.

“I almost can’t believe Mother let me come, but with the agreement to speak with some backers in Sanctifrond, she amenable enough.” She looks over the leyway and nods her head. “Looks to be fully in order, though this is one of the more decadent leyways. Not certain how you afforded it.”

“Ah, well, Saya paid for the tickets…”

“What, is she secretly rich or something?”

“Well, she’s kind of the daughter of the Grand Wizard and the Monster Lady, so-”

Ophelia’s eyes grow as wide as dinner plates and she puts a hand to her mouth. “Dear Gods, so she’s THAT Saya? I should have known, but… oh dear.” She looks a little flustered. “Ahhh, I’m here with a celebrity!”

“So you HAVE read [Wizardquest]!” you say, shit-eating grin on your face.

“Of course I have, I just… you know, thought a lot of it was embellished, and it’s not something girls are supposed to like, you know?” She mumbles to herself before slapping her cheeks. “Okay! Right! Sorry about that.”

“That was my reaction too, at first,” you say, looking over as Saya and Ginelle walk up. “You two ready?”

“Yeah, should be fine,” Saya says, stretching. “Tickets all check out for us, and we should be in Sanctifrond in about two days.”

“Technology is wonderful,” you sigh, slowly caressing the leyway. The others give you strange looks except for Ophelia, who nods her head in approval.

“Uhm… okay,” Ginelle says, nodding to the door. “Should we go in?”

All of you enter the leyway car, looking about the posh interior. There are multiple chairs lining both sides of the aisle, all made of rich leather with arm rests and multiple windows. A lush carpet runs through the center toward the other cars and you follow it, noticing a few other, well-dressed patrons sitting there, chatting amongst themselves.

The next few cars are the same, though you reach the dining car soon enough, which has many tables and booths against one side and a bar on the other. A Blue Oni bartender wipes some glasses, giving you a nod as you pass. Ginelle looks pretty interested in this car, but you keep moving forward to the sleeping cars, which have large rooms separated by sliding doors. Your room is only a few cars past the dining car, and you slide the door open to find a lovely setting.

There are four beds, two on each side in a bunk-style, with soft blankets, though the mattresses look rather flat. Four seats sit against the wall next to the window, and there are two trunks for luggage to be placed.

“Welp,” you say, nodding your head. “Here we are.”

“Yep,” the other three say in unison.

“Heeeeey!” Abigail says, fluttering out from Saya’s skirts and putting her hands on her smock, causing Ophelia to step back in shock. “I call top bunk!”

Everyone looks at Abigail, then to each other. You shrug and shake your head. “Well, might as well make ourselves comfortable, it’s going to be a trip.”

“I think I’m going to take another look around the leyway,” Saya says, tossing her things onto a bunk, one of the top ones you notice. She looks back at you and smirks. “I’ll leave figuring the rest of this out to you.” She squeezes past everyone and wanders down the car, back the way you came.

“I’m a little tired,” Ginelle says, yawning. “I think I’m going to take a nap.” She crawls into one of the bottom bunks and sighs in comfort as she snuggles under the blankets and draws a curtain to obscure her.

Ophelia cocks her head, giving Ginelle an odd look. “Uhm, you’re still wearing your dress?”

“Don’t care…” Ginelle says before softly snoring.

The Rabbit Girl looks back to you and sighs, her ears bobbing back and forth. “You have a pack of characters around you, you know?”

“Well, I think you’re one of them now.”

“I don’t know how to take that.”

“Eh, it’s a good thing,” you say, patting her shoulder, though this causes her to jump a little. “Easy now, nothing frightening about me. I’m glad you’re here though, I’d like to know a little more about you and such.” You lean in conspiratorially and whisper, “Besides, they don’t know anything about magitek.”

Ophelia chuckles and pulls out a wrench from… somewhere and twirls it in her fingers with expert precision. “Oh don’t you worry, I can talk about magitek foreeeeeeever.” She coughs, seeming embarrassed. “Anyway, what are you going to do before we engage?”

You shrug, “I dunno, go head around, cause trouble, the usual.”

“Look, Tobias, we don’t really know each other too well, but if you want to talk about it-”

“It’s fine,” you say, cutting her off. “I’ll be fine. Can’t dwell on the past forever, right?”

She shakes her head before smiling wanly. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Taking a deep breath, she then puts a hand on your chest before pushing you out. “Alright, get out of here then. I have things to unpack.”

“We’re only going to be here like, two days…” you say, but Ophelia waggles a finger.

“Ladies have their own ways about things.”

“It’s true you know,” Abigail says, flying to rest on top of your head, which is actually super annoying. “We have dignity and grace.”

“What… is that?” Ophelia asks, looking at Abigail with a perplexed expression. “I saw it before but… I just don’t…”

Abigail huffs and flies in front of her face. “I am a Leanan Sidhe, thank you very much, and I am a SHE not an it!” She crosses her arms and sticks her tongue out at Ophelia.

“Well, you two are getting along well,” you say, chuckling. They both give you dirty looks and you raise your hands defensively. “Owww, the stares owww, it burns.”

“Hmph!” Abigail says before flying over to land on your head again. “Let us leave, I don’t want to be here at the moment.”

“You little pixie b-” Ophelia says before catching herself and taking a calming breath. “I’ll catch you later then, Tobias.”

“Right…” you say, looking up at Abigail and sighing before leaving the room, shutting the door behind you. Frowning, you shake your head, causing Abigail to let out a squeak of alarm.

“H-hey! Don’t do that!”

“You are a little pest, huh?”

“Rude.”

“You know you like it,” you say, a smug smile on your face. Of course, you’re caught off guard when she sighs out,

“Yeah, kind of. Reminds me of home.”

“Uh… hmm,” you say, not sure how to respond. “You uh… miss home then?”

“No shit,” she says. “But when Lord Jackor calls…” She sighs again before pulling on your hair. “Stop being so dour, you lout. I need you to finish this job right.”

“Ugghhhhhh,” you say, swiping at Abigail, who dodges, the little bitch.

Shaking your head, you look up at the ceiling, thinking about what to do. Honestly, you don’t really feel like doing much at all, even though you’re finally on a leyway, one of your dreams. The pit in your stomach is still there, the hole in your heart aching.

“Honestly, you should stop moping and do something fun to take your mind off things.” Abigail says, lounging on your head.

“Like what?”

She thinks for a moment before tapping your forehead. “Why don’t you have a party? Parties are always nice.”

“A party, huh?” You rub your chin, mulling over the thought. Spirits have been down, so maybe doing something nice in your room would be good? Yeah, yeah, and you could have cool party games and such. People have party games at normal people parties, right? You don’t really know given your relative lack of party-going, but it sounds like something you would want to do.

“Hey, you know what, that does sound good,” you say, smiling up to Abigail. She smirks back down at you before giggling.

“See, I am smart, right? Now then, a party, party… we need food, booze…”

“Party games?” you ask, hopefully.

She looks at you with a very strange expression. “Are… are you twelve?”

“I… no…” you say sheepishly. Abigail just shakes her head and is about to say something before blinking a few times and smiling wickedly.

“Actually… yes, party games are part of a party!”

“Really?”

“Oh yes, yes, yes, yes.” she says rubbing her little hands together. “Ever heard of ‘Seven Minutes with Phallia?’”

“N…no?”

“Ehehehe,” she cackles before stopping herself and coughing into her hand. “Hey, let’s get the food first, alright?”

With the plan made, you move down the cars, eventually finding your way into the dining car. As you reach it though, you feel the leyway suddenly shudder and the floor vibrates beneath you before it stops and you hear a mild humming. You look about, blinking, and realize that the leyway has departed! Smiling broadly, you walk further into the dining car, feeling elated.

A few other patrons are there at the tables, mainly having drinks though a few have meals before them. You look over at the bar, seeing only one other person there, a young man in a leather jacket with a wide-brimmed hat. He doesn’t look up from his drink as you approach, so you sit a few barstools away from him because he seems a little… weird.

“Here there hon, how can I help you?” the Blue Oni bartender asks, looking you up and down. You’re pretty sure she’s just sizing you for your age… right?

“Uh, I guess some ale?” you say, figuring you should at least order something here, but all she does is raise an eyebrow. Did you make a mistake? You look behind you to Abigail who- where did she go? You feel a little panicked when the man at the bar chuckles, his voice much more melodious than you’d expect.

“He means he’ll have whiskey.”

The bartender looks at him before shrugging and pouring a glass of amber liquid before you. You fish out a copper for her and take the glass gently, remembering your experiences with whiskey before. That time you broke in Richard’s stash and had way too much. When he found out he gave you Hells for… oh. You look at the drink with a sad expression and the man at the bar chuckles.

“Ah, whiskey, always brings out someone’s true emotions. Had a loss recently, eh?”

You look up at him and notice he’s smiling at you, his incredibly handsome features and deep blue eyes peeking out from under his hat. Not sure what to say, you just nod at him. He motions for you to drink, so you look down at the glass and do so, feeling the burn of the whiskey going down your throat.

He smirks and takes a swig of his own liquor, downing it all in one drink. “Ahhh, that’s the stuff. Now then, you don’t really look like you’re here for a drink, though you needed one.”

“Uh… you’re right,” you say, looking back to your glass. “I actually wanted to order some food to take back to my room for my companions.”

The bartender frowns. “Food has to stay in the dining car, rules of the leyway.”

“Oh,” you say, looking down. “I’m sorry, I just… you see, my companions, one of them is rather ill and the others wanted to do something to cheer her up. I mean, she shouldn’t leave bed, but if we have to move her here to eat, then alright, I get it.”

You sigh, shoulders slumping. “I guess I’ll have to break the bad news to them…”

“Aww, hon…” the bartender says, rubbing the back of her head. “Look, I mean… I can’t just…”

“No, no I get it,” you say, sighing and taking a drink from your whiskey. Gah, it burns… good? “I’ll just… finish my drink and break the news to them.”

She sighs and shakes her head. “Damn men like you, always pull at my heartstrings.” She rolls her eyes. “I’ll get something nice for you to take back, just… don’t cry.”

“You will?” you say, smiling at her. “Oh, thank you! Oh, and throw in some bottles of wine too, and bring it by in about an hour or so, alright?”

“Uhhhh?”

“She ever so does like wine, it soothes her soul and reminds her of the old country…”

“Alright, alright,” the Oni says, grumbling and writing a few things down before handing it to a waiter who takes it over to the kitchen area. She shakes her head and goes to help another group of patrons over near the bar. You smirk over the rim of your glass, subtly influencing her mind as she pours them their drinks, making her let out soft moans. It… isn’t as hard as you expected it to be. Maybe she actually does get off on making drinks?

“That’s the best crock of shit I’ve heard in a long time,” the man says, chuckling as he sidles up to you. “Damn, that was smooth.”

You frown at him, raising an eyebrow. “I’m not certain what you mean?”

“Naw, sure you do,” he says. “You some kind of mummer or something?”

“Not quite,” you say, looking off to the side and noticing a tall, polished case of wood next to the man. “Are you some kind of performer yourself?”

He looks down at the case and smirks. “Performer, huh? Haha, yeah, sure, something like that. I’m a performer.”

“Alright…” you say, finishing your drink and placing it on the counter. “Anyway, I better be going, deliver the food to room thirteen, please!” The Oni, her cheeks bright red, nods her head quietly and waves her hand to usher you away. Task accomplished, you walk down into the next car, feeling at once confused by the man and elated you got what you wanted. Also, watching those patrons think that Oni was getting off on making drinks was mildly amusing.

“That guy was kind of hot,” Abigail says, appearing on your head. You jump, nearly slamming her into the wall in your panic. “Hey! Be careful!”

“Jackor damnit! Where did you come from?”

“Oh, you know, places,” she says, shrugging. “It’s not so hard to find a place to hide if you’re looking properly.”

“Why do you keep hiding anyway? Don’t you have crazy Fairy magic?”

“Look, Fairy magic doesn’t work like that. We can make light shows, cast a few minor illusions, etc, etc, but for Leanan Sidhe’s our talents lie more in inspiring people to-” She cuts off suddenly before frowning and pulling at your hair. “Anyway, it’s none of your business. I just don’t like to make my presence known when I don’t have to, that’s all.”

“You know, if you’re going to be part of the team, you might need to contribute something every now and then… and maybe stop hiding up Saya’s skirts.”

“Oh, you wish you could be up those skirts.”

“Maybe I do!” you say without thinking about it. Of course, then you do think about it and you take in a sharp breath as Abigail giggles.

“Hehehe, you do want to bone to Goo-Monster!”

“Hey… I just… I mean,” you say, a little panicked before you sigh and looking down. “I admire her a lot and I mean… how would I tell Ginelle? I know she likes me.”

“Oh, so does the Rabbit,” Abigail says offhanded.

“Yeah, I kind of figured that one out too,” you say, gritting your teeth. “Ughhh, but I think she can be rational about this.”

“Probably, but seeing her smug face getting…” She shakes her head before raising an eyebrow at you. “Well, maybe during your little party you should… let her know.”

You bite your lip. “Maybe you’re right.”

“Of course I’m right you idiot,” she huffs. “Now then, I think it’s time for some good old fashioned partyyyy.”

“Uh… sure,” you say, looking out one of the windows. Man, leyways, move super fast, you’re already out in the countryside. A few hours later you’re going to be basically in the wilderness. Technology is so cooooool!

You reach your room again and knock on the door, hearing Ophelia say, “Hello?”

“Hey, it’s me,” you say. A rustling sound comes from behind the door.

“Oh! You’re back sooner than I thought!” Ophelia says. “Uhm… just let me… alright, there we are.” A moment later, the door to the room opens and you blink, taken aback as you behold Ophelia before you in a slim dress of blue silk. The dress has black lance around the bust and shoulders, trailing down to a light skirt that flares into a larger, blue petticoat. Over her furred hands she’s wearing black gloves that go up to her elbows. She fidgets in the dress before chuckling, “Mother insisted I take one with me, for Sanctifrond you see, though I never wear the things, but well, the other two-”

“Ophelia, it’s fine, it’s fine,” you say, holding up a hand. “Calm down, you look great.”

“Really? Ah, I mean, yeah. Thank you.” She smiles and cocks her head. “Why are you back so soon anyway?”

“You’ll see. We’ll just have to wait for Saya to come back.”

Ophelia shrugs and sits down on one of the chairs in the room as you slide the door closed. “This isn’t the smoothest ride I’ve had in one of these, but it’s a damn good model.”

“Isn’t it?” you say, nodding your head. “Personally, I like the High Silver Chariots by technical standpoints better, but-”

“Ugghh, I can’t sleep with your nerd talk,” Ginelle says, poking her head out of the curtain, frowning.

“We’ll keep it down,” Ophelia says, to which Ginelle just rolls her eyes before closing the curtain. You shake your head and look back to Ophelia, discussing the current patterns of leyways out there and the politics of the Troll Unions, etc, etc. Actually, it isn’t until you hear a knock at the door that you realize that you totally lost track of time speaking with the bunny. It’s refreshing to have someone to talk about these things with!

You get up and walk over to the door, opening it to reveal the waiter from before with a fabulous array of foods on a cart. He nods his head toward you and says, “I trust your waylaid friend will enjoy this meal, non?”

Ginelle groans from her bed and you both look over at her, then back to each other before shrugging. You tip the man a few coppers and bring the food in, a plethora of meats, breads, and other dishes, along with a few bottles of wine! Crap, this is going to cost you an arm and a leg, huh?

“Tobias!” Ophelia says, looking a little shocked. “Food doesn’t leave the dining car!”

“Well, when you’re me, you can do anything,” you say, giving her a big grin. “Besides, I felt like, you know, we should have a little bonding or something. Have a little party maybe.”

You rub the back of your head. “Of course, if Saya was here, we could get things started.”

Ophelia shakes her head, smirking. “You are a bag of tricks, Tobias Shady. A party, huh…?” She looks over at the spread before chuckling and popping a strawberry into her mouth, her ears perking up as she chews on it succulently. You feel a little… uncomfortable as she takes a little too much delight in the act, though it kind of looks forced. Regardless, you notice a moment later her ears twitch and she frowns, eyes opening to look about.

“Do you feel that?”

“No? I don’t really…”

“The leyway, it’s decelerating.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know,” Ophelia says, looking a little alarmed before standing and moving her head about, one of her feet thumping the floor. “I don’t like this.”

You look outside the window to see she’s right, the landscape is slowing down. With some effort, you open the window to look out ahead of you, a rush of wind blowing back your hair. In the near distance you can see fires spread out before someone on the tracks and, as you approach, you begin to make out the forms of people… or Monsters, it’s hard to tell.

The sound of hurried footsteps comes from behind you and you turn about to see the door thrown open, Saya looking at you with a worried expression as she shouts. “Bandits! There’s bandits stopping the train!”

 

Chapter 40

You and Ophelia trade glances and, a moment later, Ginelle rolls out of bed, yawning and rubbing at her eyes. “What’s happening…?”

“Come on,” you say, following Saya as she jogs to the front of the leyway. Multiple passengers look outside their rooms, confusion on their faces as you pass by. When you reach the dining car you find the passengers there are looking outside the windows with worried expressions, the bartender gripping a large, ornate club in her hands.

In fact, the only person there not looking worried is the man from before, another glass of whiskey in his hand. As you approach, he downs it before adjusting his hat and looking up to you, smiling. “Well, you look like you’ve got somewhere to be. Any idea what this ruckus is about?”

“I think there’s bandits about to board the train.”

The man nods, reaching for his case and undoing a clasp. “You don’t say? Huh, I didn’t think I’d be able to ah… practice my performance while on this trip.”

“What are you talk abou-” you begin before the window next to you bursts into a hail of glass as a powerfully built Satyr flies through, showering you with shards of crystalline glass. You stare at her for a moment, stunned as she brandishes a club, about to slam it into your face, when the man at the bar blurs into motion.

You hear the sound of metallic clacking followed by a flash of light, and suddenly a small hole appears in the Satyr’s arm. She recoils back, screaming in pain before Ginelle tackles her and knock her out. You stare in confusion at your assailant for a moment before looking back up at the man, who tips his hat with one hand. In the other hand he carries a long, metallic silver weapon with a straight barrel, a cylindrical chamber that glows bright purple with aetheric light, and an ornate, gold embossed, wooden grip.

The sounds of more glass shattering and screams come from all over the leyway and the man looks about, nodding his head. He leans the device across his shoulder, smiling broadly as he says, “No time to be sitting around, let’s play some music for these bandits!”

“Oh my Gods!” Ophelia says, putting a hand to her mouth. When the Satyr was hit by the man’s weapon, it caused a small spray of blood, some of it splattering against her dress, staining the blue with crimson. She takes a shuddering step toward the man, her eyes wide, expression stunned. “Y-you…you…” she stammers, unable to get out a full thought.

The man takes off his hat, revealing short cut, gloriously golden blonde hair. He places it to his chest and nods his head toward Ophelia. “Ma’am, I’m sorry you had to see that. I forget sometimes that some people aren’t accustomed to the violence. Please accept my condolences and hide yourself in your roo-”

Ophelia cuts him off, breaking out of her stupor. “You have a Godshammer rifle! If I’m not mistaken, the stock is custom, right? Oh, the purple glow in it… a Ungot IV mana chamber? I can tell by the discharge, of course. That’s one fine piece of magitek!” She closes the remaining distance in the blink of an eye and runs her fingers down the barrel, shivering in an almost sexual manner. “Oh… I never thought I’d get to see one in person…”

“Uhh… Yes, it is,” the man says looking a little confused. “I appreciate anyone who understands the finer points of magitek weaponry, but we kind of have a train of full bandits?” As he says this, you hear screams from forward in the train.

“Oh… oh!” Ophelia says, shaking her head. “Of course! You’re right… bandits and…” She looks down at the unconscious Satyr, Ginelle dusting off her paws after knocking her out. Thankfully the rifle’s discharge managed to cauterize the wound, so she isn’t going to die, though that isn’t really your concern at the moment.

Ophelia shudders and rubs her shoulders. “This is going to happen a lot, isn’t it?”

“Look, Ophelia…” you say, putting a hand on her shoulder. “You can stay in the room if you want and-”

“No, no. There’s no time for that,” she says, shaking her head, ears flopping. “We need to get going. Besides, if they’ve damaged the mana engine, I need to be there to help out.”

“Well, alright then,” the man says, preparing his rifle again. “Name’s Clint, by the way.”

“Saya.”

“Ginelle.”

“Ophelia.”

“Tobias,” you say nodding to him. “Let’s head out and help.”

Clint looks at all pf you, spending a little more time than you think proper studying Saya before nodding to you. “You got a weapon?” Clint asks, and you wave a hand.

“Don’t worry about me,” you say to which he looks at you critically before shrugging.

“Alright.”

He moves to the end of the dining car and takes a deep breath before sliding back to the door and, in a fluid motion, levels his weapon and immediately fires it to another bestial bray of pain. You move forward yourself, but Saya vaults over the bar and slips under Clint, who doesn’t flinch at her speed, and she vanishes into the other car, more cries coming a second later.

You, Ginelle, and Ophelia reach the car to see Clint holding overwatch as Saya incapacitates another Satyr. In total, four of the Goat Monsters are down, along with many passengers, some of which groan or shake, while others are disturbingly still. Ginelle slips past also, making certain everyone is fine, and you look out a window, seeing more torches outside. Damn, how many of them are there?

As you turn back you look behind Clint into the dining car to see another Satyr finish crawling through the window, her muscular body effortlessly entering the car. She shudders and pulls out a wicked looking axe, leveling it to throw at the man helping you.

You gasp and quickly cast an illusion, shouting, “Behind you!” The Satyr’s eyes grow wide before she jerks back, as if being struck by something, and she lets out a scream of pain. Immediately Clint flips around and fires a shot into her chest, blood spraying out from her to coat the wall before she slumps to the ground, dead. He stares into the car a moment longer before nodding his head to you.

“Much obliged.”

“No problem,” you say, looking back to the cars before you. There are a lot of passenger cars, but thankfully most people should be in their rooms… still, securing the engine is the most important thing here. Besides, the bandits are probably more concerned with looting, so if you can secure one section, you can move forward. You point toward the front and both Saya and Ginelle nod to each other before moving.

The next few cars go like this like this, Saya and Ginelle dashing ahead of the group while Clint takes down the surprised targets. You and Ophelia watch from behind, but there aren’t any more surprises like before, thankfully. With these tactics, you encounter little trouble. After the third car like this, you look outside and see the torches are gone, so most of the bandits are in the leyway, you assume.

You’re preparing to move forward to the next car when Saya stops the whole group, placing her ear to the door leading to the next car. She frowns and turns back to the rest of you, moving quietly. When she reaches you, she whispers, “There’s quite a few in the next car, they sound agitated for some reason. I think they heard their friends in this car, but aren’t willing to come in here.”

“So they’re getting smarter…” you say, rubbing your chin. “Might be dangerous to just assault them head on.”

“We could go from the outside?” Clint suggests, but you wave a hand.

“No, no we can get through this.” You ponder for a moment before nodding to Saya. “I think I can make a distraction for you, alright?” She nods her head, not even questioning you, which is a rare rather phenomenon in your life. Slowly, you slip forward to open the door just a crack and peak inside.

Immediately you see three Satyrs level weapons, one throwing a knife toward you, and you jerk back your head, the weapon imbedding itself in the door. With the door still open however, you focus yourself and cast your illusion into the room, targeting one of those who didn’t throw a weapon. A moment later you hear confused shouting, followed by some momentary grunting and then you strike again, targeting a different one. You hear one of the Satyrs in a gruff voice, shout, “I’ll Teetolar you, you owl raping pan piper!”

“Твоя мати сука? Твоя мати сука?! What does that mean?!” You hear sounds of weapons being drawn and, a moment later, fierce cries of panic and anger. A dull pain throbs in your head and you shake it momentarily before waving Saya and Ginelle through, to which they tear open the door, vault over you, and take down the fighting Satyrs.

As the last one goes down, the Saytr grunts, “This is your fault, you сука… whatever that means…”

Ginelle nods to you, giving a thumbs up while Saya smile appreciatively. Clint walks up, rifle over his shoulder as he rubs his clean shaved chin. “Uh huh… you sure you’re not a mummer? How did you get them to fight each other?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Ophelia says, her ears twitching. “It sounds like people are moving this way, the floor is vibrating.” Clint nods and takes up position on the other side of some seats, while everyone else hides. You take a spot next to Ophelia and she winks at you, making a thumbs up. Oh, Ophelia, you try your best.

The door slams open and the sound of hooves fills the room as you look up to see a group of Satyrs file in, pointing and shouting as they spy Clint. He immediately drops one, but the others dash forward before he can charge up another shot and he grunts, pulling back.

Unfortunately for them, as one passes by, Ginelle leaps from the side, pinning the Monster to the ground while Saya hamstrings another, causing them to fall into a heap. Yet more pile in however, and before Saya can do much more, a club smacks her across the face, sending her to slam against a seat, stunned momentarily while Ginelle is kicked in the stomach, driving the air from her. You look up at the one who did this, finding a larger Satyr, wearing an amalgamation of armor over her torso, jingling sacks of coins tied to her belt. She smirks and pulls out a cleaver, leveling it to slice toward Ginelle.

“No!” you shout, standing up as the Satyr stops her blow, leveling it carefully toward the Badger, who understands the situation herself. The bandit looks up to you and licks her lips, chuckling.

“Ohhh, is this your girlfriend? My, you’re a succulent one, aren’t you? Here I thought we’d only get old codgers, but the Boss is going to be sad when she finds out I took a nice one like you.” You take a step toward her and she moves the cleaver closer to Ginelle, growling at you. “Not one step further! You take another step and I cut her pretty little head off!”

You hold up your hands in a gesture of peace. “Okay, okay, calm down…”

“Calm eh? Ha! This is too fun!” She licks her lips. “Now, we’re going to wait until the others come here to clean up this mess, but for now… take off them pants.”

“Uhm… what?” you ask, confused.

“I said, take them off, less you want to see her hurt.”

“You… you don’t have a dick or something, do you?”

“What? No. Why would you even fucking say that?” she asks, looking angry. You move your hands to placate her before reaching for your belt, slowly undoing it. She chuckles and licks her lips again, but you hear something metallic from behind you. Slowly, you close your eyes and take a deep breath, pulling down your pants.

She begins to breathe heavily, but before you can lower your pants past your undergarments, you drop to the floor, revealing Clint crouching behind you, who fires his rifle, taking the Monster in the chest, though her armor takes much of the blow. She staggers backward, grunting, but more furious than anything. Before she can recover fully, however, you hear a high-pitched cry, and Ophelia leaps over the seats (and the other Saytrs) in a way which doesn’t seem physically possible given her dress, to slam a wrench into the Satyr’s head, causing her to stagger to a knee. The move does throw Ophelia off balance however, and she falls onto her side, atop another Satyr on the ground.

Saya, recovered now, bounds up and finishes the job, quickly dispatching the bandits with dispassionate precision before helping up Ginelle, who nods her thanks to her. You sigh and nod to Clint, who puts two fingers to his hat and flicks them toward you. A weird… gesture, but okay. You walk over to Ophelia and, seeing her groaning, you help her up, to which she smiles at you. “Did I help?”

“Yeah, you did, though perhaps you should let Saya take care of it next time.”

She looks a little down. “I wanted to try being like the others, but maybe I should just stick to my strengths.”

“Well, that wrench seems pretty strong,” you say, tapping it. She rolls her eyes in response.

“The next car is the crew quarters before the engine. I can’t hear much in there, but I would imagine there has to be someone in control up there.”

“Right,” you say, looking ahead and nodding to Saya, who checks the door, frowning.

“No one’s there,” she says, sliding the door closed. Before it finishes sliding shut however, you see a large hand reach forward and snag Saya’s collar, pulling her hard enough to shatter the door on its frame. All of you stare in shock as a large, much larger than even the armored bandit, Satyr walks through the door, pressing Saya firmly against her, a ball of fire hovering over her hand. She looks over all of you before grunting and making the fireball stronger.

You shout at Clint, who readies his rifle, but the Monster brays and the windows around you shatter as four more Satyrs appear. Ginelle tries to fight one off, but she gets slugged in the face and drops to the floor, struggling as she’s pinned down by the bandit. Ophelia drops her wrench and surrenders while you get smacked in the shins, driving you to the floor. You can’t see what happened to Clint, but you hear his rifle drop to the ground.

“Bah, how did you cause so much trouble, and yet were so easy to catch?” The large Satyr asks as you look up, getting a good look at her. She’s tall, as you noted before, perhaps seven feet, with shining, steel shod hooves. Her torso is that of a very, very well-endowed woman, though she’s wearing an assortment of armor that somehow manages to show cleavage while looking intimidating. She shakes her hips, which are furred brown and resemble that of a goat’s and, on her belt, jingles multiple vials of white fluid. Tossing her long, brown hair back, she reveals a black eye patch and a pretty, though stern, face.

“I should just kill all of you,” she says, before looking down at Saya. “But, hostages are hostages, huh? How much are you worth to someone?”

“You let her go,” you say, your shins aching abominably. “Don’t you dare hurt a hair on her head!”

“Hrm? Don’t speak unless spoken to.” She nods to the Satyr next to you, who kicks you with a hoof, which hurts like the Hells. You wheeze and she rolls her eyes before continuing. “Honestly, how many of my ladies did you kill? It’s a real pain in the ass to retrieve them AND our loot before someone shows up. I already killed the conductor when he wouldn’t open up the safe on the leyway, or take out the mana converters.” She sighs,

“He didn’t burn so good.”

“Why are you doing this?” you say, trying to stall for time, or anything really, as you think things through. Saya could easy melt her way out of this, take out the boss quick as can be, so why isn’t she?

The leader rolls her eye. “Uh, for the money? We’re bandits, and leyways can make some great coin. Easy as Hells to hold up too, much better than a wagon. No deeper meaning, my sisters and I just want an easy life since Galmathoria is a pain and that bitch of a Lady doesn’t want us raiding anymore. Soooo we’ll just become lawbreakers, take what we want, fuck who we want, and keep on living the life we know.”

“Uh… huh, so what are you going to do with us?”

“Oh, well, I’ll probably just have someone rape you, and I’ll sell off the women folk, ransom, whatever makes the most money.”

“Sounds pretty petty,” you say, making eye contact with Saya, urging her with your eyes to get her to do something. She bites her lip and the leader notices, frowning.

“Petty huh? Petty would be taking you while your girlfriend watches,” she says, smirking. “Ah well, I think it’s time to get going and- the fuck is that?”

Everyone stops and turns about to see a glowing ball of light appear in the room, dashing from the other cars. You vaguely see the shape of a person with wings in the ball of light, and a moment later, a booming voice says, “I AM THE SPIRIT OF VENGENCE!”

The Satyr leader doesn’t hesitate and throws her fireball toward what can only be Abigail, and the little Fairy dashes to the side, the fire splashing against the ceiling, scorching it horrifically. The Satyr throws another fireball, to which the Fairy dodges again, and the ball hits the Satyr locking down Clint, lighting her hair on fire and causing her to scream and drop to the floor, rolling about.

The other Satyrs shout in alarm and the leader roars, placing another fireball to Saya’s face as Clint scoops up his rifle. You feel metal press against your neck as the Monster holding you presses a blade there, and you can tell the other two have done the same to Ginelle and Ophelia. The leader Satyr grits her teeth and says, “Put the weapon down, or they all get it.”

“Aww, now see, I can’t be doing that,” Clint says, never taking his eyes off the Monsters. “You see, ma’am, I respect all of you, but a performer can’t just pack up mid-way through the show, he has to see it through.”

“You can’t shoot all of us!” she shouts. Clint just chuckles though and a look of confusion spreads on her face.

“Well, you see, about that…” He slides a finger forward on the mana chamber, causing it to burst brilliantly to life, flaring a bright purple all over the car. The Satyrs bray in panic for a moment, but before they can finish, Clint fires four, rapid-fire shots before the mana chamber sputters and goes dark.

You feel the knife against your throat clatter down as the weight of the Satyr’s body falls onto you. With a grunt, you roll her off you, revealing a perfect shot to the forehead, killing her instantly. You look over to the others and see tunned expressions as the other Saytrs suffered the same fate. Even Saya is surprised!

Clint stands and looks over his rifle before sighing and removing the dull mana capacitor. “Damn, these things aren’t cheap.” He looks up and smirks.

“You all alright there?”

You blink a few times before nodding your head and rising. “Yeah… yeah I think so.” The others form up around you and look to Clint, who just tips his hat. “Thank you for that.”

“Nothing much,” he says, shouldering the rifle again. “Like I said, I got to practice my art.”

“Nothing much he says…” Ophelia says, huffing and looking at his rifle before letting out a cry of distress. “You overloaded out the mana chamber! This weapon is useless without another one!”

“Yeah well, that’s what happens sometimes,” he says, nodding back the way you came. “I have two more in my luggage.”

“T-two?” she says, eyes huge. “How can you possibly afford two-” He raises a finger and waggles it.

“Now, now, enough of that, we have a leyway to clear.”

You pause, about to say something when you hear hooves clattering toward you. Clint steps back as the door opens and more Satyrs appear, their eyes full of rage and belts filled with loot. However, when they reach the doorway, they stop, staring at the corpses before them, especially that of their boss. One of them licks their lips and smiles before stepping back.

“You know what, we’ll be going now.”

“You do that,” Ginelle growls, and they bolt, leaping out the windows and running off into the night. There had to be at least ten of them, were they that afraid after seeing their Boss dead? Well… whatever, it works.

“Uhm… okay,” you say, shrugging. “Ginelle, Saya, sweep the leyway for more and see if anyone needs help. Clint, give them a hand.” You look to Ophelia and nod. “We’re going to check the engine, see if we can’t get find the engineer and maybe get this moving again.”

She salutes and the others leave, though Saya lingers for a moment, looking a little apprehensive as she clenches her dress before shaking her head and running after the others. You sigh again and follow Ophelia to the engine room, wishing you could just have had a nice party…

 

Chapter 41

The leyway is perfectly intact thankfully, though the engineer is way too afraid to do anything and, with the conductor dead, it falls to Ophelia to operate the leyway. Of course, after the sweep revealed all the bandits had fled, it took Ginelle, Saya, Clint, yourself, and many surviving staff to clear the logs and other trash barricading the tracks enough that you could move again.

Ophelia gets everything running smooth enough and with the help of some staff, manages to get some semblance of order back. She refuses to leave when someone offers her a break, however, saying that she’s too excited to step away. She actually does seem excited to operate the leyway, so you leave her be and help out the passengers.

A few are dead, sadly, but most were either just accosted or lightly injured, and one of the passengers is a healer, so wounds are fixed well enough. Of course, you and your group get hailed as heroes for all of this, but before you can try to pass the buck to the others, Ginelle and Clint vanish, one saying she wants to nap again, the other just… disappearing. Abigail did her disappearing act almost as soon as she appeared, only reappearing in your room to say she got tired of waiting before going to sleep herself, the little ingrate.

It’s maybe a few hours into the night before you get some semblance of calm enough for you and Saya to break away from the others and head outside into the warm night air, the breeze outside feeling good against your skin.

“Can’t have things easy, huh?” you say, looking over the railing at the caboose as wind whips past your hair. You don’t really care though, it feels great.

“No, we can’t,” Saya sighs. “Sure you don’t want to get some sleep?”

“Nah, I’d just like to sit out here for abit. We have another day to sleep all we want.”

“Fair enough.” She’s quiet for a long while before speaking again in a quiet voice. “I’m sorry about earlier, I know you wanted me to… to use my talents to get out of her grip, I just…”

“Saya, it’s fine, I don’t-”

“No, it isn’t, it was a stupid reason and I just… ugh.” She puts a hand to her head and shakes it. “I never have trouble like this.”

“It can’t have been that stupid a reason,” you say, trying to reassure her. “What happened?”

She looks at you with some apprehension before sighing out, “I didn’t want to do it because… I didn’t want to ruin the dress you got for me.” She looks at a small tear in the hem and sighs anyway. “It means a lot to me, alright?”

“Saya…” you say, feeling the mood change as she looks up at you, wind rustling her dark hair. Even in the darkness of night, you can tell her beautiful eyes are staring into yours, as if looking for an answer, though you don’t know the question. Or do you?

This mood, the way she’s looking at you, your beating heart… all of these things run through your mind in a split second as you desperately try to make sense of what’s happening this night. You had maybe hoped you could get along with Saya, but something more? That was just a niggling voice in the back of your mind, something you’d pushed down because come on, you’re you. She’s a hero, daughter of the most powerful people in the world, and you’re… Tobias.

But when you look again in her eyes, what else could be happening here? Surely, you’re over thinking things, right? Well yes, but not in the way you’re thinking, is it?

You close your eyes and take a deep breath, calming your thoughts. No, sitting here running all this through your mind won’t do. Richard always said to study your situation, watch people, and formulate a plan from the information present. A very analytical way of looking at things, but it boils down to “go with what makes sense.”

And what makes sense to you, is that Saya wants something from you.

Opening your eyes you, look back at her, your mind resolved. You take a step toward Saya and she flinches ever so slightly, something that seems wrong for her, given the strength you associate with the Monster. Your heart beating quickly, you reach out with a tremulous hand and gently place it upon her head, causing her to gasp slightly as you softly run your fingers through her hair in gentle, stroking motions.

You give her a soft smile and say, “Don’t worry about the dress, the only thing that matters to me is that you’re safe.”

Her eyes go wide and she takes in a sharp breath as her face burns so brightly red that it almost becomes a beacon in the night. She looks to the side as you continue to pat her head, your fingers playing along her rather soft hair, and she mutters, “Tobias that’s… you don’t mean that.”

“I do though. It’s been only a short time since we’ve met, but I feel… I don’t know, close to you. Maybe it’s from reading [Wizardquest], yet…” You shake your head and sigh. “No, no forget [Wizardquest] for a moment, it doesn’t do you justice.”

“I mean, I was only a kid then,” she says, leaning a little into your hand. “I should hope it doesn’t do me justice.”

“Yeah, yeah,” you say, chuckling awkwardly. Both of you go silent for a moment, the only sound the rushing wind and the gentle motion of your hand on her head. This lingers on for a long moment and you see Saya look up at you before looking back down, her face seeming… disappointed. Above all else, that hurts you, so you have to grit your teeth and just do it.

“Saya, I like you,” you say, almost tripping over your own words. Once again her eyes widen, but in total shock, as if she was utterly unprepared for this eventuality. She studies your expression for a long while before she breathes out,

“You… you do, don’t you? And… not just because of-”

“No, it’s not because of who you’re related to, but who you are. Strong, confident, funny, caring… I feel so far underneath you, it’s almost painful saying things like this.” As you say this, you try to retract you hand, but in a fluid motion, she snags it her own and places your palm against her cheek. The coolness of her skin, despite her blushing, feeling good against your hand.

She closes her eyes for a moment and takes a shuddering breath, leaning into your hand. “Tobias you… I think I like you too, but… but you know what I am, it’s not… I mean, I can’t…”

“So what?” you say, walking forward to gently bring her into a hug. She practically melts into your embrace and you hold her tightly against you, feeling an elation you’d never known before. She shudders against your chest, and you move your hand that was on her cheek to take hers, holding it tight. “If I cared that you’re really some black Goo-Monster, would I do this?”

She chuckles, though the laughs are punctuated by what could only be sobs. “That’s not… not very nice to say to the girl you practically confessed to.”

“Practically? Shit, I didn’t do it right then,” you say, smiling down at her. She looks up into your eyes, her own glistening with tears, a smile on her face.

“You’re an idiot, you know that? But… but no one’s ever… thought of me in this way before. No one’s ever held me like this and…” She blinks tears out of her eyes. “Look at me, a few hours ago I was killing bandits, and now I’m crying like a schoolgirl.”

“Hey, let out whatever you have to, alright?” you say, holding her close again.

She mutters against your chest, “What about the other two?”

“Other two?… Oh, Ginelle and Ophelia.” Your face pales some at the thought. This is one Hells of a can of Sandworms to deal with now, huh? You take in a deep breath. “I… I’ll talk to them later. I’m sure Ginelle will figure it out soon, but Ophelia… well she’ll get over it quickly.”

“Are you sure about this?” Saya says, gripping you tightly. “You can back out, I’ll understand completely.”

“Saya, let me see your real face.”

She snaps her head up to you, a look of confusion and embarrassment on her expression. “W-what?”

“If you’re so worried about what I think of you, then show me your true face.”

She searches your eyes before breathing a little quicker and looking down, biting her lip. You feel her hand on yours tighten and, a moment later, she closes her eyes. Her face seems to ripple, and then, slowly, the skin tone vanishes, replaced by an almost gelatinous blackness that you would have difficulty seeing in the night if it weren’t for the bright red, insectoid eye looking at you. Her other eye is still human though, an odd dichotomy in the sea of pitch that is her skin. She looks back up at you, searching for signs of fear or disgust.

You gently raise your free hand and, without hesitation, place it against her cheek, feeling the cold, almost liquid sensation of her skin. She gasps, looking at you with horror. “I could have eaten your entire hand!”

“Yeah, but you didn’t, and you wouldn’t, right?”

Saya’s mouth, or well, you think it’s her mouth, hard to tell in the darkness, hangs open. She fumbles for words for a long while before shuddering and punching you slightly in the side of the ribs. “Don’t be such a smart ass.”

“That’s literally my best trait.”

“Ugh, I’m going to be dating someone like you. Mother warned me about Illusionists-” Her eyes go wide as she gasps. “Oh Hells, I’ll have to introduce you to Mother.”

“The Monster Lady? I mean, she’s really nice, right? It shouldn’t be that big a deal or anything…”

“No, no she’s nice, I love Mother, but she’s just really… a big stickler on formality for those outside the family and I don’t know how she’ll react to something like this and, oh boy I have to send my report and…”

You put finger on her lips, or whatever they are at the moment, silencing her. She pauses as you tilt her chin up, your fingers sinking slightly into her until you touch the bone underneath. “Saya, don’t worry about it, I’m sure everything will be fine. I have a few things of my own you should know, but for now…” You trail off as both of you realize your situation.

Your heart begins to pound faster in your chest as you realize that she’s seen it also. Her body tenses up and, if she had eyelids, you feel they’d flutter slightly as she leans in ever so closely, perhaps ten percent toward you. You gulp as an almost magnetic attraction pulls your face closer to hers, pulling you in to close that ninety percent gap. You’re almost there, your mind gone blank, your whole being subsumed into the realization that you’re about to kiss her, when you feel a gentle pressure on your chest and you see Saya pull back, breaking you from the spell.

The movement surprises you and she looks away, her face once more human, though her expression is pained. She mutters, “I’m sorry, I… I’m sorry about that, but I can’t, not yet.”

“Saya…” you say, feeling an utterly crushing weight upon you at those words. Did you mess up somehow? Already? Crap, is it because you tried going too quickly? That’s what it was, fucking Hells.

“It’s nothing about you or anything, I just… just don’t want to rush things.” She looks down and sighs, “I’m sorry for that.”

You close your eyes before nodding and pulling her in for a hug, resting her head against your chest. Yeah, you’re not allowing her to say no to that, at least. “It’s fine, I understand.”

“Thank you…” she says before quickly standing up on her toes and giving you a peck on the cheek. She smiles broadly at your surprise, then pushes away and does a little twirl in her dress. “Better get some sleep, we’ve got a lot to do when we get to Sanctifrond!” Saya walks to the door and puts a hand on it, pausing before saying, in a voice almost too quiet to hear, “You don’t know how happy you’ve made me Tobias.”

And with that, she opens the door and vanishes inside. You watch the closed portal for a long moment, before slowly touching your cheek, feeling the lingering sensation of her lips against your skin. You break out into a wide smile and whisper to yourself, “Dating someone like me, huh?”

Shaking your head, you follow her back into the leyway and head to your room where Saya has already closed the curtain to her bed. You look up at it for a long time before smiling and preparing yourself for bed, crawling up the other top bunk and settling down, pulling the curtain closed as you snuggle under the incredibly soft sheets. A mixture of elation, embarrassment, and apprehension, courses through you, though what you feel more than anything else is tired.

You roll over in bed and sigh when you see the smiling face of Abigail looking you. Honestly, you’re too stunned to jump, or perhaps too tired, so all you can do is blink at her shit-eating grin, the little Fairy leaning on one shoulder, her wings glowing faintly.

“So, did you kiss de girl?”

Without a word, you roll over to the other side, shake your head, and close your eyes before drifting off to sleep. With Sanctifrond only a day away and a lot of things to take care of before you get there, you’re going to need all the sleep you can get.

 

Chapter 42

You awake to the sound of gentle humming and rustling sheets. Grumbling, you open your eyes and look about your curtained bed to see Abigail curled up a few inches from your head, sleeping soundly. Aww, she’s kind of cute when asleep, instead of the bitch she is when awake. You watch her for a moment longer before rolling your eyes and opening your curtain to see sunlight streaming into your room and Ginelle pushing herself up in bed, yawning.

As you pull back the curtain, she looks up at you and waves, a motion which you reciprocate before the memories of last night come back to you. Holy shit, you’re dating Saya now, aren’t you? You vaguely notice Ginelle giving you an odd look and you shake your head, trying to force on a normal expression. When you try to speak, she points toward the bed under you.

Underneath you should be Ophelia and, considering how quiet Ginelle is being, it must mean that she finally succumbed to basic urges of the living and took a damn nap. Good for her. Ginelle yawns again before rolling out of bed, still wearing that dress you note (plus a little blood) and quietly opens the door. She closes it behind her, leaving you in a room with only three other Monsters.

You miss Richard.

Anyway, you sigh and crawl out of bed to the floor and quietly dress yourself in your suit. This thing is seriously worth every copper, because despite all that’s happened, it looks good as new. Three gold was a fucking steal for this, and you mentally remind yourself to always purchase Arachne silk clothing from now on. Well, if you can afford it anyway, not like you’re loaded or anything. Of course, you are dating the daughter of two of the most powerful people-

You shake your head vigorously. No! No, no-no! You will not just imagine such things. It’s too cruel for both you and Saya. You like her for who she is, not what she, well, you like that too but- Okay, things are complicated. Of course, that thought gets you thinking about Ginelle and Ophelia, making you blanch. Fucking Hells, how are you going to explain all of this to them? Ugh…

You look over to Saya’s bed, the curtain still drawn, and you think about opening it, to confirm that this isn’t some crazy dream, when you shake your head, dismissing the idea. No, no, you won’t do something like that. She clearly wants to take it slow, so you’ll let her. Not like you have any experience in these matters beyond Clarissa, but that doesn’t count. You never really… look, it was Richard that… ugh… Well, it’ll be awhile before you ever see her again anyway.

Sighing, you dispel these thoughts and prepare to face the day. No sense in getting worked up over such things until the very moment they happen, where you can freak out and try not to ruin your life. That’s the appropriate, adult way to handle stressful events. The other appropriate, adult thing to do is have a hearty breakfast. Clearly this is the right choice, especially since the bandits stole all your food from your little party last night. Truly, they were the worst in the world.

Quietly, you make your way outside, looking out the windows to see the morning sun shining over the countryside between Loveura and Sanctifrond. You take a moment to just appreciate such things, small memories stirring within you of when you traveled to Richard’s place all those years ago. Strange how things haven’t changed, huh?

You shake yourself out of the memories and walk down the hallway to the dining car. Thankfully the staff worked through the night to remove the corpses, either disposing of them or stowing them in the cargo hold, which is incredibly morbid, but whatever, it’s not your place. As you enter, you see the familiar face of the Blue Oni bartender, though her face is a little flushed as she pours a glass of amber liquid. Seriously, did you even successfully cast an illusion?

Either way, you look over to the only other occupant of the dining car to see Clint sitting there, a plate of steak and eggs before him, with a generous portion of bacon and… a muffin. Clearly, this is fine dining at the highest. As you enter, he looks over to you and he waves his fork before picking up the glass and taking a drink, exhaling with joy at the burn.

“You’re hitting the bottle a little early, aren’t you?” you ask, taking up a seat next to him at the bar.

“Never too early for the good stuff, right gorgeous?” he says, obviously intending the last part for the bartender, who blushes again before rolling her eyes and looking to you.

“I’ll have what he’s having,” you say. She nods her head before pouring you a glass of the drink and putting in an order for food. You look down at the glass before looking back up at Clint, who raises his own to you. Shrugging, you and pick it up, clinking the glass against Clint’s and taking a drink, feeling that burn before setting it down.

“Hah, see, never too early.”

“If you say so,” you say, rubbing your chin. “A little quiet in here today, huh?”

“Well, these rich types don’t much care for breakfast. It’s all about brunch for them.”

“Uh huh. Sure it doesn’t have to do with the leyway robbery last night and the several injuries?”

“Nah,” he says, picking up a piece of bacon. “They really, really like brunch. Mark you, they’ll be here in a few hours, talking about mamanosas like nothing happened.”

You frown, rubbing your chin. “You know an awful lot about the nobility, huh?”

“Hah, knowing they like breakfast and lunch foods doesn’t mean I know much about them.”

“If you say so,” you say, shrugging before holding out a hand. “Tobias Shady, didn’t get to introduce myself properly.”

Clint raises an eyebrow before taking your hand in a firm grip. “Shady, huh? You don’t say. Going to Sanctifrond to see family?”

You blink a few times, confused. “I… no, I’m going for a different… I’m sorry, why do you ask that?”

He chuckles and releases your hand, shrugging. “Oh, no reason. Name’s Clint, but you already knew that.”

You frown deeply and study his calm expression, seeing something beneath the smugness he’s displaying. Carefully, you ask him, “Clint, what exactly do you do?”

He smirks and pats the case next to him. “Well, I guess the whole performer thing went out the window, huh?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Well, you see, I’m sort of a traveler of sorts. Spent a lot of time roaming around the wilder lands out around the Galmathorian border.”

You take in a sharp breath. “Solos… that’s incredibly dangerous territory! They stick to the old ways, rape men on sight, or take them back to Galmathoria.”

He smiles wider. “It’s basically wild country for the people who want to live there, and they need someone with the skill and the tools to keep things in order. That’s where I come in.”

“Wait, but why are you heading to Sanctifrond then?”

His smile flickers for a moment. “Obligations,” he says before shaking his head. “Anyway, they’ll be fine without me for a little bit. Got me a few others I’ve trained to keep things out there in order.”

“So you’re like some kind of mercenary?”

“Hells no!” he says, looking a little angry. “I fight for causes I find just!”

“I… see.” You look over at his case before waving toward it. “That weapon, it’s not exactly common, right? I’ve never even seen one before. The people out near the border have that much influence eh?”

He shakes his head and pats the weapon case. “Nah, Gloria and I have been together longer than all that. Of course, I’m not that old! But as for where I got her, well, that’s my little secret.”

“Clint, honestly, I was impressed by what you did last night. I was kind of hoping that maybe I could convince you to join me on a mission of utmost importance.”

He raises and eyebrow as the Blue Oni returns with a plate full of breakfast meats, placing it down before you. Gods, it smells heavenly, but you have something more important to deal with at the moment.

Clint looks at you critically before slowly tapping his whisky glass, which he managed to drain without you even noticing. The bartender prepares to fill it when you wave a hand. “Put it on my tab.” She gives you an odd look before shrugging and placing the bottle next to Clint, who is still staring at you.

“Well?” you say, but he stalls you by lifting the bottle to his lips and taking a swig, sighing a moment later.

“Utmost importance, huh?” He seems to muse that over for a moment before waving toward you with the bottle. “Well, best get explaining then.”

You look toward the Blue Oni, who shrugs and walks to the other side of the bar and starts cleaning glasses before you look back to Clint. Taking a deep breath, you say in a quiet voice, “My companions and I are trying to stop an insane Monster from starting a war between Deleor and Galmathoria.”

He gives you a long look before snorting and shaking his head. “Really? That’s what you have to say?”

“Well… yeah, it’s the truth.”

“Oh, I believe you, it’s just… kind of silly, right? Saving the world? You think you’re the Grand Wizard, Mr. Sorcerer?” Your eyes go wide as he smirks. “Thought I wouldn’t notice last night? Dunno what you did, but it worked. Saved me I should think, so I owe you that much.”

He looks down at his food before sighing. “Listen, I got a few things to take care of in Sanctifrond, you ever want to speak again, come by the Hero’s Square round noon. I’ll probably be about, just relaxing or so.”

“I…” you begin, but he shovels the rest of his food into his mouth before swigging down the rest of the bottle, nodding to the bartender, then you, and walking off toward his room. You can only stare at him as he walks by, the whole scenario playing out oddly in your head.

What the Hells just happened here?

A moment after the door to the other car closes, it opens again, admitting Saya, who smiles upon seeing you, a little blush on her face, though she’s wearing her dark clothing again. She walks up and sits next to you, smirking as she sidles up close, resting her head on your shoulder before looking up at you.

“Morning.”

“I uh, morning,” you say, a little flustered at the sudden attention, when you realize that Saya already has a piece of your bacon to her lips. You frown at her and she just chuckles, chewing on the meat and pushing away from you.

“Oh, this is going to be fun,” she says, chuckling as she takes another piece of your food.

“Hey, order your own!” you say, taking your plate from her.

“That’s no way to treat your new girlfriend,” she says, reaching over your shoulder, but you stick your tongue out at her and she pulls back rolling her eyes. “Oh fine, you stick in the mud.”

“That’s very lewd,” you say, raising your nose as you spear some eggs and bring them to your mouth. She blinks a few times before her face goes crimson and she punches your arm.

“Gods, you are crude.”

“Thank you,” you say, a smug expression on your face. She gives you a glare before rolling her eyes.

“Well, Ophelia went to sleep, finally, and I think we’re still on track to reach Sanctifrond by the evening. Should be smooth sailing, so to speak, from here on out.”

“I suppose so.”

Saya gives you a critical look before frowning. “Ah… the others.”

“They’re not going to take it well,” you say, twirling your fork about. “I think Ophelia will be fine, but Ginelle…”

“Maybe I should tell her, I’m her friend and such so…”

“I’ll let her know. I don’t want you two to fight, you both mean a lot to me.”

“Tobias…” Saya says, putting a hand on your shoulder before sighing and waving to the bartender. “Get me some breakfast too.”

“Coming right up.” She looks between the two of you and licks her lips. “You want a drink too?”

“No, thank you,” Saya says. Oni looks a little disappointed before putting in the other order, leaving you two alone again.

“When?” Saya asks.

You groan, hanging your head over your food. “I don’t know…”

“Tobias, you can’t string her around like that. It’s not fair to her or… or me.”

You look up at her and see her expression, a hint of pain hiding behind her eyes. You grip your hands before sighing and nodding your head. “I’ll tell her soon, alright? For now can we… can we just relax a little?”

Saya sighs and leans her head against your shoulder. “Fine, I just want to start this on an even field, you know? Maybe I’m asking a little much but… I want to know that I matter to you.”

“Of course you do, don’t say that,” you say, putting an arm around her shoulder. She leans into you for a moment before the sound of heavy footfalls comes from the next car. The door opens and the two of you pull apart, revealing Ginelle with her short, white hair looking windswept. She takes in a deep breath and smiles broadly before saying,

“Nice day everyone! Who’s hungry?”

You and Saya look at each other before nodding and waving for Ginelle to take a seat next to you, preparing to get her fed as well. “I don’t wanna get uppppp!” Ophelia whines behind her curtain, the sound of rustling blankets filling the room.

“Ophelia, it’s like, mid-afternoon, you need to get up and make sure they don’t crash the leyway.”

“I don’t care, I’m tiiiiiirrreeeed.”

“This isn’t very professional,” Saya says, rolling her eyes.

“Bah, professional…” Ophelia mutters before pulling back the curtain, revealing her face, which looks pretty tired, if also pretty pretty.

“Come on, just a little longer?”

“Now Ophelia,” you say, tapping your foot. She groans and rolls out of bed, rubbing her eyes. You blink a few times as she does and both you and Saya look toward each other before Saya turns you around in a hurry.

“Ophelia, put some clothes on!” Saya hisses, her voice sounding a little strained.

“Huh?” you hear Ophelia say before gasping. “Oh Hells, I forgot Tobias was around! Uhm! Sorry! I didn’t realize I was just wearing my small clothes!”

You decide not to comment on the fact that she looks really, really good in just her undergarments, because you’re a smart one. Some ruffling comes from behind you before Ophelia makes a noise of affirmation, and you turn about to see her in her leather jacket and pants again. She rubs at her eyes before looking at you and blushing. “Ah, haha, right, I’ll head to the engine then.”

“Alright, we’ll see you in-” you’re cut off as Saya nudges your shoulder. The Rabbit Girl looks to you, cocking her head, her large ears flopping.

“Something wrong?”

“I…” you say, suddenly incredibly nervous. You look between the two and take a deep breath before saying in a low voice, “Ophelia, I have something to tell you…”

She blinks and looks concerned as you rub at the back of your neck. “Well, you see, I’m pretty sure you have a thing for me.”

Her face lights up bright red and she holds up her hands defensively. “No… NO! That’s not, I mean…” She looks toward Saya, her face paling. “That’s… I mean…”

You sigh and hold out a hand toward her. “It’s fine Ophelia, I think you’re a great person and I love that we can connect on things the others don’t appreciate, not the mention the fact that you’re beautiful, but…” You look to Saya and gently take her hand in yours. “We decided to… start something.”

Ophelia’s eyes go wide. A moment later ears droop down low, her expression crestfallen, though a wan smile is on her lips. “Oh… of course. I should have known you’d go with… well it’s not like I ever really thought that…” She rubs at her eyes before sniffing and looking up at you, a smile on her face. “This is why I didn’t bother with boys. Machines can’t hurt you.”

You let go of Saya’s hand and walk over to Ophelia, taking her in a hug. She resists for a second before shuddering and resting her head against your chest. You say to her, in a low voice, “Ophelia, the fact that you could even start to feel this way means that you want something more. I’m incredibly honored that someone like you would feel that way about me, but… someone else would make you far happier. Don’t let go of these feelings, alright?”

Ophelia nods her head and pulls away, rubbing at her eyes. “Y-yeah. You’re right. It was stupid anyway.” She chuckles, putting her hands on her hips and looking off to the side. “Mother was right about something I guess!”

She shakes her head and sighs. “Look at me, I’m a mess.”

“Hush, you’re beautiful,” Saya says, nodding to Ophelia. “I’m sorry, I hope that this doesn’t-”

Ophelia shakes her head. “No, no, we still have business to take care of, I just… need a bit. Not even sure it was anything silly like love, just a crush.” She blanches. “I don’t know how you’ll tell Ginelle though.”

“I’ll… figure something out.”

Ophelia nods her head slowly before taking a deep breath and slapping her cheeks. “Right then, I’m off to make sure we can stop this thing.” She walks to the door and lingers there for a moment before looking back at you and Saya.

“I’ll see you at the station.” With that, she leaves.

Saya looks to you and pats your shoulder. “Well done.”

“I guess,” you grumble, still feeling bad about it. Poor Ophelia… but perhaps it was for the best.

“You’re not going to be able to tell the badger, huh?” Abigail says, peeking her head out from the bunk, a shit-eating grin on her face.

“Awww, are you upset that I didn’t choose you?”

She blinks a few times before blushing furiously. “W-what? Why would I care about something stupid like that?”

“Awww, it’s okay little Abigail. I know you wanted a piece of this, but it just can’t be.”

She almost literally begins steaming. “Y-you bastard!” she says before slamming the curtain shut. “Get fucked by a bear! The kind with a penis!”

Saya sighs and gives you a look of utter annoyance. You shrug your shoulders and walk outside the room, her in tow. When the door closes she says, “That wasn’t very nice.”

“Yeah well, maybe she needs teasing every so often. I bet it gets her off.”

“You’re just high strung over Ginelle.”

“That, and a lot of other things.”

“Wanna talk about it?” she asks, and you shake your head.

“No, not at the moment, I just… just want to sit and rest until we reach the station.”

Saya nods her head before smiling softly. “I think I can do that.”

The two of you head to one of the cars with seats, both sitting next to each other and chatting softly until Saya falls asleep, resting her head on your shoulder. Even though you just want to sit and watch her like this, you too succumb to the temptation and drift off to a light sleep yourself.

You awaken a few hours later, finding Saya still on your shoulder. Looking around out the window, you find that it’s become dark outside, though the little scenery you can make out shows signs of civilization. Must be getting close to Sanctifrond, huh?

Saya awakens as you shake her shoulder, and she blinks her eyes before looking up at you and rubbing at her mouth, a thin stream of drool there. She looks out the window blearily before narrowing her eyes. “Oh, hey, we’re almost there.”

“Yeah, I think so.” A moment after you say this, a staff member walks by, instructing you to prepare your luggage for the station. You and Saya nod to her and head back to the room to find Ginelle there, packing her things, which is pretty much just her dress.

“Hey,” she says, looking at the two of you. “Saw the two of your sleeping earlier, though I wouldn’t disturb you.”

“Oh… thanks for that,” you say, looking a little nervous.

“Yeah, good to see the two of you getting to know each other better,” she says, smiling. “Of course, I’d like to try the same thing sometime.”

Saya frowns at you and you gulp a little before licking your lips. Ohhhh boy, this is the time to do this. Of course, Saya should be outside, you should do this gently, be a complete gentleman and-

“Yeah, sure!” you say, chuckling. Saya gives you a fierce look as Ginelle smiles.

“Heh, alright then.” She looks through small window in the room before shaking her head. “Loveura and now to THE Sanctifrond… never thought I’d get to see something like this in my life.” She turns to you and smiles. “You’ve really brought a lot of great things to my life, Tobias.”

You groan at that. Ginelle gives you a strange expression as you feel the leyway suddenly seem to shift some under your feet. It’s a familiar feeling to last night, which means you’re… decelerating? You look outside the window again to see buildings appear, along with lanterns and people all about, despite the evening. Soon enough, all of you are watching as things slow down until you lurch to a stop.

Not long after, the clatter of feet and luggage is heard outside. You nod to the others, taking Ophelia’s things, to which Abigail hides in for some reason, before heading with the crowd out to the station. As you step out the leyway and onto the stone platform, you feel the warm air of the summer night play upon you, the tickling sensation feeling almost nice as you look about the station.

Due to the massive leyline conflux here, this station has multiple leyway lines, and thus is incredibly large. It’s built in the shape of a dome, made almost entirely of glass, which you figure was incredibly expensive, and was incredibly difficult to build. Still, it’s breathtaking to see it again, as well as the flurry of people moving about the platforms, buying food, running to leyways, or getting off to their destinations.

You look over to see Clint appear out a door a car down. He notices your look before tipping his hat and vanishing into the crowd. Well, you can’t exactly chase after him so instead you make sure everyone gets off, standing to the side until Ophelia manages to rejoin you, a rather excited look on her face. One not to dissimilar to that bartender when pouring drinks…

Well, with your group about you, you look off toward the exit, all the familiar sights coming back to you. Shaking your head, you grip your [Rucksack] tight before taking deep breath and saying,

“Welcome home, I guess.”

 

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